But Rob Gray, a Republican political strategist and former Cellucci adviser, said Patrick is putting not only his legacy on the line, but also threatening the Democrats’ iron grip on Beacon Hill if the lawmakers are forced to vote on the massive tax package.
“It may be a bold move, but politically not popular,’’ Gray said. “You could call it a selfish move because if he were running for reelection, Governor Patrick wouldn’t do this. By proposing it, he’s potentially parking the hearse at the door of Democratic candidates and the legislators who will be on the ballot in 2014.”
Gray also said Patrick’s legacy could well be remembered for the size of the tax increase and less for the transportation projects and education programs that are established.
“If he gets his way, it would establish him as the governor who has passed the most tax increases in over 40 years,’’ said Gray, noting the governor’s approval of a hike in the sales tax in 2009. “He just may go down as the most tax-happy governor of Massachusetts in recent history. Most people would not want that legacy.’’
Rubin argues that voters are more sophisticated and discerning than what the Republicans argue. He said Patrick comes across as a governor acting out of principle, not for political gain.
“The people of Massachusetts have shown that candidates who stand up for what they believe and put the interest of the state first have a lot of success,’’ Rubin said. “I don’t buy the premise that this is something that hampers Democrats going forward.’’
The governor’s move fueled speculation that he was setting himself up for a future run for office, including for president. But Patrick, who was general counsel to Coca-Cola before running for governor, has made it clear that he does not have further political ambitions and plans to return to the private sector.
A chance to leave his mark through a signature tax proposal, however, was clearly on his mind during his State of the Commonwealth speech Wednesday.
“As I consider our work for the last years,” he told lawmakers in the House chamber, “I think most governors wonder ‘What will last?’ ”
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.